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Ethiopia to Release Inmates to Curb Coronavirus Spread

A cleaner wears protective gear to disinfect public transit as a preventive measure against the spreading of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 20, 2020.

Ethiopia is set to begin releasing more than 4,000 prisoners Thursday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Attorney General Adanech Abebe said inmates convicted of minor crimes, with less than a year left on their sentences, and women with babies, qualify for release.

Ethiopia is also deporting foreign inmates being held on drug-trafficking charges to their native countries.

So far, Ethiopia has had12 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but with the disease spreading rapidly across Africa, the government decided to take action to fight the spread of the virus.

Meantime, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is urging Ethiopians to practice social distancing, even as large crowds ignore warnings and gather for events in the capital, Addis Ababa.